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|The Moral Inversion of Richard Goldstone, Melanie Phillips|
23/09/09So now we can see how Richard Goldstone thinks he has preserved his judicial reputation while perpetrating a blood libel against Israel. He has produced a report which, as anticipated, finds that Israel committed all the war crimes’ during Operation Cast Lead of which his Mission members had decided it was guilty before even starting their deliberations, along with the NGOs whose unremitting hostility and malice towards Israel and history of peddling Palestinian propaganda as fact did not deter the Mission from uncritically accepting their evidence as the truth, thus finding Hamas guilty of no crimes at all -- except one. That was, by an amazing coincidence, the one set of crimes it committed which the world was forced to acknowledge actually happened – the firing of rockets from Gaza into Israel with the sole intention of killing Israeli civilians. By referring to this en passant, devoting minimal attention to it in the course of his 570- page report the vast majority of which is devoted to allegations against Israel, he engineered the even-handed’ headline he needed to maintain his credibility:
There is evidence that both Israeli and Palestinian forces committed war crimes in the recent Gaza conflict, the official UN report says.
He acknowledges no such crimes by Hamas within Gaza itself -- not least against other Palestinians -- such as turning the entire population of Gaza into hostages by siting its rockets and terrorist infrastructure amongst that population and additionally using them as human shields.
(To clarify, this is quite different from the intra-Palestinian violations of human rights he found took place as a result of the violence between Fatah and Hamas).
Even worse, he presents the Palestinian aggressors as victims of Israel, requiring Israel to make reparation to those from whose houses and streets it was being attacked. No reparations to Israel are required from any Palestinians, even though Goldstone accepts that Hamas committed war crimes and crimes against humanity by firing thousands of missiles at its civilians.
To cover himself completely against the fact that the degraded aim of the mission he headed was to delegitimise Israel, his report claims at the start that his mandate from the President of the UN Council on Human Rights was:
... to investigate all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law that might have been committed at any time in the context of the military operations that were conducted in Gaza during the period from 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009, whether before, during or after.
Decides to dispatch an urgent, independent international fact-finding mission, to be appointed by the President of the Council, to investigate all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law by the occupying Power, Israel, against the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, due to the current aggression, and calls upon Israel not to obstruct the process of investigation and to fully cooperate with the mission.
Of the countless distortions, errors and absurdities in this travesty of a report, the following jumped out at me from an initial reading.
1) The first error is in the title itself: HUMAN RIGHTS IN PALESTINE AND OTHEROCCUPIED ARAB TERRITORIES: Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict
But Gaza is not occupied by Israel, as is quite clear from even a cursory look at the Hague Convention which lays down the criteria for occupation. For Goldstone to say that Gaza is still occupied demonstrates either an ignorance of international law quite remarkable for a professor of international law, or that he is signed up to the ideology which deliberately uses such mis-statements to delegitimise Israel.
2) Par 27: Goldstone describes Gaza as blockaded by Israel. He makes no mention of Gaza’s border with Egypt which Egypt keeps closed. Is Goldstone as ignorant of topography as he appears to be of international law? Unlikely, since he also states (par 8) that
the Mission sought and obtained the assistance of the Government of Egypt to enable it to enter the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing.
But Goldstone does not mention that Israel provided a detailed breakdown of the Palestinians killed in Gaza and stated that the vast majority of these were Hamas or other terror operatives. Even the UN eventually acknowledged that some 75 per cent of the dead in Gaza were Hamas terrorists.
4) Pars 33-34 Goldstone says he does not accept that the Gaza police targeted by Israeli military strikes were part of the terrorist infrastructure’; and that therefore the attacks on police buildings
constituted deliberate attacks on civilian objects in violation of the rule of customary international humanitarian law whereby attacks must be strictly limited to military objectives.
-- Among the 343 members of the Palestinian security forces who were killed, 286 have been identified as terror organization members (83 percent). Another 27 fighters belonging to units undergoing infantry training raises this total to 313 (91 percent).
-- Lumped under the rubric of the Palestinian police’ are all the security bodies that fulfilled combat and terror roles against Israel, the intelligence and preventive intelligence bodies, as well as those active in policing and maintaining order. Those serving in all of the Palestinian security apparatuses in 2007 and 2008 took part in terror activity and fighting against the IDF.
-- In the December 27, 2008, attack on an officer training course at Gaza police headquarters, 89 dead were counted. Of these, 60 (67 percent) belonged to Hamas and almost all were members of its military wing, the al-Qassam Brigades. The total number of terror activists and fighters among those killed at police headquarters was 81 (91 percent).
there may be individual members of the Gaza police that were at the same time members of Palestinian armed groups and thus combatants
5) In attempting to discover whether Palestinian civilians were adequately protected by Hamas, Goldstone says delicately (par 35) that the mission
was faced with a certain reluctance by the persons it interviewed in Gaza to discuss the activities of the armed groups.
as part of Israel’s refusal to cooperate, it banned the panel members from entering the country. The panel made two visits to Gaza, entering from Egypt, but conducted the bulk of their research from Geneva.
6) Then there is Goldstone’s treatment of the mortar shelling of al-Fakhura junction in Jabalya next to an UNRWA school. This was the site of the infamous accusation by the UN that Israel had shelled the school itself, killing more than 40 civilians sheltering there. The UN eventually admitted that this was entirely false and the school had not been shelled at all. Israel had instead returned mortar fire at the street next to the school from where firing was still continuing, killing a small number of Hamas terrorists and an even smaller number of civilians who were standing near to the Hamas mortar position.
But Goldstone concludes:
Par 688... The Mission notes that the attack may have been in response to a mortar attack from an armed Palestinian group but considers the credibility of Israel’s position damaged by the series of inconsistencies and factual inaccuracies.
7) Goldstone says:
Par 209. Since 1967, about 750,000 Palestinians have been detained at some point by the Government of Israel, according to Palestinian human rights organizations.
In order for the 750,000 number to be accurate, it would mean roughly 500 arrests a week every week since 1967. In order for 50,000 new prisoners to appear this year, it would mean around a thousand arrests a week. The PCHR [Palestinian Commission on Human Rights] keeps track of the number of Palestinian Arabs arrested every week. Taking the past two months as examples, we see the date of the weekly report and the number of arrests:
8/26 --- 16
8/19 --- 28
8/12 --- 17
8/5 --- 25
7/29 --- 14
7/22 --- 21
7/15 --- 10
7/8 --- 18
7/1 --- 28
This doesn’t quite add up to tens of thousands of arrests a year.
In short, Goldstone adduces no evidence of Israeli war crimes at all. He merely recycles the claims made by hostile NGOs peddling unverifiable Palestinian propaganda as fact – including more than 30 references to Human Rights Watch, the anti-Israel organisation of which Goldstone himself was until recently a member of the board.
As such, the Palestinians who used other Palestinians as hostages, booby-trapped their civilian areas and used women and children as human shields are given a virtually free pass by Goldstone. Israel, which conducted an operation that was targeted with astonishing precision against terrorists operating inside civilian areas, taking every possible precaution to safeguard civilian life by repeatedly dropping leaflets and making cell-phone calls beforehand to warn residents to evacuate, is accused by Goldstone of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Through such moral inversion and the reproduction of distortions, lies, smears, errors and omissions Goldstone has thus anathematised a country’s defence against terrorism and genocidal aggression. But then, he doesn’t accept that in Cast Lead Israel was defending itself. Astoundingly, he characterises the aim of Cast Lead thus:
1674 The operation fits into a continuum of policies aimed at pursuing Israel’s political objectives with regard to Gaza and the Occupied Palestinian Territory as a whole. Many such policies are based on or result in violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. Military objectives as stated by the government of Israel do not explain the facts ascertained by the Mission, nor are they congruous with the patterns identified by the Mission during the investigation.
cannot be understood and assessed in isolation from developments prior and subsequent to it
This disreputable piece of work will in turn embolden and empower Hamas and Palestinian terrorism, provide the jihadis of the UN and their accomplices with the means further to persecute Israel and endorse its genocidal attackers, and incite the Arab and Muslim world still further to aggression and to war.
With this report, Goldstone demonstrably forfeits his claim to legal, moral or intellectual credibility. He should be disowned by the legal profession.
Update: In an earlier version of this post, I said the report only required Israel to investigate the allegations made against it and to be referred to the International Criminal Court if these investigations were not satisfactory. In fact, it makes the same requirement of the Palestinians in respect of the far fewer allegations made against them.